Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: The Flash #1

Written by Geoff Johns; art by Francis Manapul

I have to confess that I've never really cared much about The Flash as a character. I'm pretty indifferent in the whole Wally West versus Barry Allen debate. My favourite speedster is probably Bart Allen, which may simply be because he's the only one I'm really familiar with, from having followed him in Teen Titans. Last week's Secret Files and Origins didn't do much to whet my appetite for this relaunch, so I picked up this issue almost reluctantly, half expecting to be bored with it.

The good news is that it was better than I expected. First, the art is really quite nice, as is the colouring, which establishes a nice contrast between warm sunset-like palette used for the exterior scenes in the city, and the colder purplish tones of the crime lab where Barry Allen works.

Although the story itself doesn't advance much in this first issue, it sets up all the major characters and relationships effectively. First, there's Barry and his wife Iris. They barely spend any time together in the issue, but Geoff Johns cleverly establishes a rapport between them with through the text messages they send each other throughout the story. Then there's Barry's coworkers at the forensics lab. We only meet a few of them briefly, but it looks like they're all going to be fleshed out over the course of the series.

And this is where I think The Flash has the potential to offer something really different from any other super-hero comic in the DC universe right now. I really hope that rather than just focusing on his adventures as The Flash, Johns will also give us some good police procedural type of action. I was immediately reminded of The Wire when the issue of department stats came up and how City Hall is pushing to have cases solved quickly. The Wire is my favourite TV series of all time, so Johns can rip it off as much as he wants and I'll eat it all up.

Another thing that reminded me of The Wire was the way that Central City (like Baltimore in the TV series) is being established almost as a character itself. It seems that a lot of effort went into painting a living portrait of "the city that's always on the run," both in terms of the art and the story.

As for the plot, we haven't really been given enough of it yet for me to have anything to say about it. Some kind of murder mystery with a time travel/Minority Report kinda twist. We'll see where it goes in the next issue.


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